NIH study finds mixing COVID vaccines increases immunity

Published 12:27 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

Results from a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health suggest mixing and matching boosters increases immunity in patients if they receive a booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after receiving a dose of the J&J vaccine.

The results will be crucial information in the Food and Drug Administration’s panel where FDA officials will decide if and when another dose of J&J vaccine should be administered. After the decision, the FDA will progress on the matter of approving boosters.

FDA scientists didn’t reach a firm conclusion about whether there’s enough evidence for J&J boosters, citing shortcomings with the company’s data and little information on protection against the extra-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Booster vaccines are currently in use under Emergency Use Authorization and only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the national organization.

Health authorities say all the vaccines used in the U.S. continue to provide strong protection against severe disease or death from COVID-19. But amid signs that protection against milder infections may be waning, the government already has cleared booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for certain people starting at six months after their last shot.

Aiming for uniform recommendations, Moderna likewise asked the FDA to clear its booster dose at six months. But J&J complicated the decision by proposing a second shot over a range of two to six months.

FDA reviewers wrote that a study of the two-month booster plan suggests “there may be a benefit,” while pointing to only small numbers of people who got another shot at six months instead.

Overall, the J&J vaccine “still affords protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death,” the FDA’s reviewers concluded. But data about its effectiveness “are consistently less” than the protection seen with Pfizer and Moderna shots.

For its part, J&J filed data with the FDA from a real-world study showing its vaccine remains about 80% effective against hospitalizations in the U.S.

J&J’s single-dose vaccine was highly anticipated for its one-and-done formulation. But its rollout was hurt by a series of troubles including manufacturing problems and some rare but serious side effects including a blood clot disorder and a neurological reaction called Guillain-Barre syndrome. In both cases, regulators decided the shot’s benefits outweighed those risks.

Competitors Pfizer and Moderna have provided the vast majority of U.S. COVID-19 vaccines. More than 170 million Americans have been fully vaccinated with those companies’ two-dose shots while less than 15 million Americans got the J&J shot.

Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 528 more cases of COVID-19, seven deaths, and 53 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities. The state has a total of 497,379 cases and 9,907 deaths, and 1,344,413 persons fully vaccinated.

Lafayette County has 7 more cases of COVID-19. There have been no reports of deaths or LTC facility outbreaks. The county has a total of 8,450 cases, 137 deaths, 199 LTC facility outbreaks and 56 LTC facility deaths.